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Major study findings presented in an easy to understand format. Research briefs contain implications for practitioners.

Journal of Personal Finance, 18(1) p. 37-53


As student loan debt is one of the fastest growing concerns for American households today, we need to understand the decision making behind student loan behavior to deal with the high student loan debt level properly. For this purpose, following a behavioral economics framework, we examine how variation in framing scenarios including gender bias, negative and positive framing, and aspiration for college degree framing, affects participant’s perceptions about the wisdom of using student loans and appropriate borrowing amounts. To analyze these framing affects, we obtained 1847 participants through an online survey describing a hypothetical student’s considerations related to attending college. We applied nonlinear regression with probit analysis and found that participants in the experiment had an implicit gender bias by recommending higher student loan debt for men than for women. However, additional information regarding the value of a college degree given in the female scenario encouraged them to take student loans and increase the amount of student loans.

Barbara O'Neill, Yilan Xu, Carrie Johnson, Elizabeth Kiss, & Steve Buyske

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